How to do London on a Backpacker’s Budget

Here are our top money-saving tips on how to explore London without breaking the bank

Article by Edita Rhodes

  • 25 September 2019
  • • 4 min read

London is without a doubt an expensive city. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get around this beautiful city on a shoestring budget. There are tons of ways to experience London without a huge dent in your pocket, from visiting its museums, scenic sights, to going on self-directed walks. Here are 7 practical tips to help you explore London on a limited budget. 

Explore Attractions that are in the Same Area

While this may seem like an obvious thing, prudent time management will make your trip stress-free. There are lots of fascinating things to see and do, with beautiful sights spread throughout this extensive city. Don’t fall into the trap of attempting to visit every place within a short duration. Instead, explore two or three sights a day that is adjacent to each other to cut your travel time and budget. 

Below are some key London areas with sights that are the perfect distance from each other...

Westminster: Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, Houses of Parliament and more. You can also look for a free walking tour in London, Westminster and get a chance to visit the House of Commons. 

Southbank: Tate Modern, Borough Market, The Thames, the Globe Theatre and much more.

Kensington: Here you’ll find 3 fantastic free museums: Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). 


Get an Oyster Card

Oyster cards provide the most affordable way to get around London. For instance, a Visitor Oyster Card costs 50% less compared to using cash to purchase single tickets or one-day travel cards. More importantly, the card saves you from the hassle of queuing at ticket machines. Oyster Cards are available at all buses, trains, and underground stations. Get your card way ahead of time from the TFL website to start saving right away. 


Walk or Cycle

While public transport is ideal for longer journeys, walking is a great way to explore Central London. You can also hire a bike to cover a much bigger ground - you'll see Santander Bikes all over the city. Walking and cycling allow you to visit more attractions, keep fit, and possibly run into hidden treasures on your trip.  


Explore Free Attractions

London has many magnificent free sights and landmarks that you can explore without paying a penny. For instance, leading art galleries like the Southbank Centre art complex, the National Gallery, and the Tate Modern don’t charge any entry fee. Other free attractions include renowned museums like the British Museum and outdoor spaces like Hampstead Heath. 


Save on Accommodation

London is home to some of the most classy and costly hotels in the world. But there are also some that can fit your personal needs and budgets. You just need to know where to look. Generally, accommodation is expensive in the city centre, so pay attention to the map when picking your accommodation. Apart from hotels, London has loads of affordable and safe accommodation options like short term rentals and hostels where you can meet plenty of fellow backpackers on a very similar budget to you.


Obtain a Discount Visitor Card 

If your plan is to tour a couple of renowned London sights during your visit, expenses can easily overwhelm you. Generally, most of the famous attractions charge an entry fee of £20 to £30 per adult. Fortunately, obtaining a discount visitor card such as The London Pass is a great way to minimise your expenditure and save time as well. Pay a fixed amount for the card and then use it to access as many places as you can. 


Eat on a Budget

London has a plethora of amazing restaurants that offer enjoyable and pocket-friendly meals. You can easily get great cuisines from different parts of the world, but don’t leave London without tasting a few British dishes. A perfect way to cut food costs is to go to one of the many London markets. Camden Market, the biggest market in London, has more than 1000 stalls loaded with delicious foods, clothes, arts, and records. You can also get a street food app if you’re a fan of street food. 

If your dream is to visit London, the expensive reputation that this awesome city is associated with shouldn’t scare you from accomplishing your dream. The 7 actionable travel tips we have discussed here will help you have a great trip to London on a tight budget. 

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